OKC: It Was A Very Good Year (UPDATE: Marincin signs!)

Lowetide
April 25 2011 09:33AM

We learned a lot about Oklahoma City this season. We now know how to pronounce the state's name properly (this woman was central to the process) and we know that Oklahoma produces lots and lots of really good country singers. What else have we learned?

WILD LIFE

This is an Alligator snapping turtle. Crazy looking thing, been around for a long, long time. They're an endangered species despite the fact they have no predator outside man. Pretty cool turtle.

The OKC Barons graduate an enormous rookie crop this spring, it's deep and strong. Linus Omark and Jeff Petry are likely to be Edmonon Oilers full stop in the fall and Teemu Hartikainen could also make the big club at training camp. Bubbling under that group is another list of rookie pro's that include Colten Teubert, Chris VandeVelde, Milan Kytnar and Philippe Cornet (among others).

I think it's important to remember that there have been entire rookie crops who have epic failed when entering the AHL grind. Recent Oiler picks who have either struggled as AHL rookies or been flushed from the league entirely include Taylor Chorney, Slava Trukhno, Johan Motin, Alex Plante, Colin McDonald, Cody Wild and Jeff Deslauriers.

WHAT ABOUT NEXT YEAR?

Among Oiler prospects who could be AHL rookies in 2011-12, the club has signed a few already with some to come (we hope). Not signed yet are Swedish center Anton Lander and WHL defender Martin Marincin but the club has been busy getting ready for next season:

  • March 8: Oilers sign NCAA defender Taylor Fedun from Princeton. It's a two year deal for the puck moving defender who went 10-12-22 in 29 games in the land of the big brains.
  • March 19: Oilers sign NCAA center Tanner House from Maine. An interesting item in that he was a teammate of Oiler draft pick Robby Dee. House has good skills and is described as a two-way player. He went 6gp, 1-4-5 +3 at the end of the Barons season and should be considered an integral part of the forward group for 11-12.
  • March 30: Oilers sign QMJHL goaltender Olivier Roy to an entry level contract. His .911 SP for Acadie-Bathurst was among the league's best and he has had experience with Canada's WJ team. Goalies are hard to project, so a good guess would be that he spends some time in both the ECHL and AHL next year.
  • March 31: Oilers sign CIS L Hunter Tremblay from UNB. 25-32-57 in 27 Canadian college games, Tremblay had an immediate impact at the pro level. Tremblay scored a playoff goal for the Barons during their 5-game series that just ended this weekend.
  • April 1: Oilers sign C Mark Arcobello to a contract. The young man who played much of the season in the ECHL blossomed upon recall and earned a contract. He's diminutive and one suspects the AHL is his outer marker but the Oilers must have seen something in him to offer the contract. 
  • April 13: Oilers sign R Tyler Pitlick to an entry level deal. The Medicine Hat Tiger winger (56gp, 27-35-62) should be expected to fill a feature role in the AHL next season. Scouting reports suggest a gritty player with skill, he's one of two signed players who should be able to keep prospect nerds (like me) happy with the Barons development group. This is a high draft pick ticketed for (likely) a one year apprenticeship in OKC.
  • April 18: Oilers sign L Curtis Hamilton to an entry level deal. He's the other blue chipper likely to be a Baron in 11-12. Blocked on LW at the big league level by Hall, MPS, Hartikainen and others, it'll be Hamilton's job to stay healthy, learn to grind against men and chip in enough offense to be a legit callup option. 

We should expect the Oilers to add a veteran goaltender, a couple of veteran defensemen and some veterans like Colin McDonald for depth up front. The item to follow closely is Anton Lander: he has to be signed in the next 5 weeks or the club will lose his rights. Also on the horizon is the decision re:Marincin, with him signing a pro deal the most likely scenario.

The Barons and the club's coaching staff did a terrific job with the available talent this season. Should Lander and Marincin sign, and with Pitlick, Hamilton and others already ticketed for OKC, we could be talking the same talk one year from today.

UPDATE: Oilers tweet this morning. Marincin signed his three year entry level deal.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 Colin
April 25 2011, 09:42AM
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Chronologic superiority is mine! . I'm very interested to see what Pitlick, Roy and Hamilton can do next year, should be another decent year for the Barons. Hopefully a higher seeded playoff spot awaits the farm club next year - success at the lower level should eventually breed success at the NHL level.

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#2 EasyOil
April 25 2011, 09:58AM
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LT: wrote this just now over at C&B but considered it appropriate for here too - Would you consider the Barons season a success overall? I’d say I would – to be transformed from a last-place team filled with underachievers and career minor league grinders, to be moved to a new city, where it becomes a tough-as-nails, deep, skilled team with a great veteran/youth balance with a lot of promise who take one of the AHL’s best teams to 6 games in their first playoff appearance in their inaugural season, where to even make the playoffs considering their injury-plagued parent-club is a minor-miracle. Yup, I’d say the OKC Barons have been a roaring success this year, all things considered, and I have to give credit to management for “doing-it-right” finally, as well as big kudos to Rocky Nelson – he seems like a guy who can get the most out of his players.

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#3 Lisa McRitchie
April 25 2011, 09:59AM
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It's VandeVelde, not Vande Velde, one word.

He doesn't mind so much that people have it wrong, but that was something I made sure to ask about when I checked out the scenes in OKC.

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#4 DimebagDave
April 25 2011, 10:01AM
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I could be wrong but I thought that Marincin has been signed. I heard on the radio broadcasts that he was with Oklahoma for the playoffs.

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#7 Vaclav
April 25 2011, 10:12AM
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@DimebagDave

Marincin was in OKC on a PTO (professional try-out) contract. He hasn't signed an ELC yet.

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#8 Shapeman
April 25 2011, 10:16AM
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I'm curious but why is everyone dumping on Plante? I didn't get a chance to listen to Bob at lunch when he was Oklahoma so I'm not sure if he said anything about him but when I look at this stats his +/- seems solid and his points are decent for a defensive defenseman. He's still only 21 and history shows us that defenseman develop late. Any thoughts LT?

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#9 Lisa McRitchie
April 25 2011, 10:19AM
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@Lowetide

No worries! He was a great interview, especially when I asked him about his tourism and recreation degree.

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#10 Clay
April 25 2011, 10:38AM
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With the number of players ready for an NHL shot, there is simply no reason to have JFJ on the roster next year.

However, I'm convinced that he'll be there, and if he is, can we safely assume that the management of this team is just plain incompetent?

Is there any reasonable argument that he is a better option than Hartikainen, VDV, Omark, Reddox, or even McDonald, Moran, O'Marra, or Giroux?

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#12 misfit
April 25 2011, 10:47AM
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I hope Taylor Fedun sticks. This edition of the Boys on the Bus may have found it's Randy Gregg.

Brainy defenseman with good size who went undrafted and took the scenic route to pro hockey (though Feduun hasn't played any hockey in Asia yet).

I have no idea if there is any reason to compare them from a hockey perspective (I've never seen Fedun play), but it's a fun copmarison to make anyway.

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#13 Spartacus
April 25 2011, 11:03AM
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@EasyOil

I was kinda surprised to see the poor attendance numbers for the Barons games in Oklahoma City, especially considering that the Blazers drew large crowds on a regular basis.

I wonder if it will take a Calder Cup run to get fans in the seats.

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#14 Tha Legion
April 25 2011, 11:43AM
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Marincin just signed edit him in lol

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#15 Lisa McRitchie
April 25 2011, 11:53AM
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@Spartacus

The people I talked to in OKC said that they were tired of just having junior teams. Most were shocked when I told them just how close the the NHL the AHL is.

Hopefully more people will talk about this season and bring their friends next year. Also, if there was more local coverage it might help. When there is a high school wrestling tournament, the local media guy covers that, and the Barons get neglected. Hopefully it's just growing pains.

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#16 Spartacus
April 25 2011, 12:51PM
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Hey, good news that Marincin is signed.

LT, any feelings on the signing of Lander? Will he sign and play in the SEL or the AHL? Will he sign at all?

What do you make of him being cut from the Swedish World Championship Team?

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#17 Peterborough
April 25 2011, 01:02PM
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Almost all of our kids exceeded expectations. I'm a bigger fan of signing vets to one year over pays and force the kids to make the club, I like Teemu and VV but I would prefer that they spend another year down there. This gives us better call up options for the rash of injuries that are reliable in Oil country as the Canucks choking in the playoffs. Patience, its comming: playoffs in 12/13!!!

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#18 Dennis
April 25 2011, 01:39PM
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is recent history any indicator of if or when we should get nervous about Lander not signing?

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#19 EasyOil
April 25 2011, 01:50PM
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Spartacus wrote:

I was kinda surprised to see the poor attendance numbers for the Barons games in Oklahoma City, especially considering that the Blazers drew large crowds on a regular basis.

I wonder if it will take a Calder Cup run to get fans in the seats.

As Lisa said, I think misconceptions about the team didn't help, but also having the Thunder in town may have been detrimental, especially when both teams were in the playoffs at the same time. Attendance was probably the only disappointment for the Barons, and it is a concern, but I'd give them another year or 2 to establish themselves. And a playoff run would certainly help with that.

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#20 They're $hittie
April 25 2011, 01:55PM
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@Lowetide

Hey Lowetide, Could you give us what you think the Barons depth chart would look like next year.

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#22 EasyOil
April 25 2011, 02:03PM
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Spartacus wrote:

Hey, good news that Marincin is signed.

LT, any feelings on the signing of Lander? Will he sign and play in the SEL or the AHL? Will he sign at all?

What do you make of him being cut from the Swedish World Championship Team?

I'm certain he will sign, but most likely will play another season in Sweden. Of course thats based on nothing but my own opinion, but Lander has shown himself to be a smart kid. He's best buds with Magnus, would most likely know Omark too, and they would be a major factor in him signing with EDM. Plus, Edmonton is apparently very popular in Sweden due to Paajarvi and Omark. He would also know that his skillset is something Edmonton is in dire need of, and along with the current youth movement in Edmonton, this would give him a greater opportunity to make it to the NHL. I see no reason for him to want to re-enter the draft, unless he really doesn't ever want to leave Sweden, which is a possibility, but I reckon a small one. I think having MPS here would be a major factor in Lander eventually coming over to play for Edmonton.

As for him being cut from the Swedish WC team, no worries whatsoever there. He was captain for one of the pre-tournament friendlies, which shows they are well aware of what he can do, but he only turned 20 today (happy birthday Lander!) so there shouldn't be any concerns about him not making a mens tournament when he's only just stopped being elligible for the junior one.

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#24 Sean17
April 25 2011, 02:53PM
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I wish the NHL had a scout like this. Interesting article about how prospects can become overrated. This is for the NFL but, I see it in the NHL too. How else do you explain Fowler dropping to 12th overall last year.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-silver_rogue_scout_enjoys_label_042511

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#25 pelhem grenville
April 25 2011, 02:59PM
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OKLA ()() CLEAVEGE ()() HOMA

...so LT is this the way we pronounce it correctly from now on?

sooner ....er ... later i'll get it right

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#26 pelhem grenville
April 25 2011, 03:01PM
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edit : cleavage

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#27 Halfwise
April 25 2011, 04:48PM
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That photo never gets old. What a remarkable landscape, Okla)(homa.

As for the Barons -- their success this year, and their ability to provide adequate call-ups to the big club, just highlights how little talent the big club had to work with through the last years of the EIG. Kudos to whoever woke up and realized you can't build much without a decent foundation, then went out and got started.

Maybe when people talk about a long-term rebuild they have the whole enterprise in mind, including a junior team, an ECHL team that wins, an AHL team that wins, Euro and NCAA scouting, development coaches and some NHL depth. When we impatient fans figure we're just a PKing center and a D away from contending, we're probably guilty of the same incomplete thinking that we accuse the GM of.

I would be interested in knowing the long term correlation, if any, between NHL success and minor-league affiliate success over the years. Does Atlanta fail, along with NYI, because their high picks have nowhere useful to play?

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#28 Aron S
April 25 2011, 05:18PM
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LT or anyone else:

Not that he's Oilers property any more, but how do Riley Nash's AHL points stack up in Desjardins equivalencies?

AHL: 79GP 14 18 32 are the stats.

Thanks if you can help. I couldn't google a formula to use, except that they project it as about .45 of AHL pts to NHL points?

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#29 I tried it at home
April 25 2011, 05:35PM
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Edit | Reply #26 pelhem grenville April 25 2011, 03:01PM +1 0 props edit : cleavage

Edit | Reply #27 Halfwise April 25 2011, 04:48PM +1 1 props That photo never gets old. What a remarkable landscape, Okla)(homa.

Hmm, Okla)(homa. I like it!! As of now, this is the way I shall refer to the club. Thanks for the view, Lowetide, Ive been up north on shutdown for a while and its nice to see what Im working for. Oh, yeah, and the O)(a 'barons had a great year too.

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#30 gcw_rocks
April 26 2011, 09:37AM
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LT - do you really see Pitlick playing wing? I know he has played wing in MH, but there is not a lot of offesive upside in that group of centres you mention and I would like the Oilers to give Pitlick a shot down the middle and move someone like House to the wing instead.

Also, what about Martindale?

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